Employee to Entrepreneur

by Matt Fischer

Decemeber 7, 2012 is the day I ended my tenure as an employee and transitioned to full-time entrepreneur. It was one of the most exciting days of my life. I was leaving behind sitting in a cube and not seeing natural light for 8 hours a day.

I traded that for getting up at 6 AM and working until 10 pm the next day, a Saturday, and many days since. I gave up a steady paycheck for having to literally go earn every cent of my pay by myself. No paid vacation days, no days off period.

I was energized to finally have the opportunity to build something from nothing. Take an idea in my head and try to build a business from it. I feel I’ve had the entrepreneurial spirit inside me my whole life. I’ve always admired entrepreneurs and strived to one day to do it myself.

Having seen there was a Startup Weekend in September 2012, I signed up.  I went to the event but didn’t pitch my idea. I told my buddy I was attending with to pitch his and I’d work on it with him. I came out of the weekend energized to start my own business. I began immediately seeking out feedback from friends on my idea and doing more in-depth research on the opportunity. A month after startup weekend I was building my site at SportsFormulator.com.

Returning to the cube farm after that, I had never been more frustrated. I just felt trapped. I needed a challenge and knew it couldn’t get more challenging than building a business. A lot went into my decision. In 2011, I lost four family members in seven months (three in 60 days).   With my dad and aunt passing prior to retiring from their careers, it helped motivate me to chase the opportunity and not let it pass by. Not having a wife or kids, if I fail, I’m really the only person it impacts. So I decided to take a week off of work and really examine things and do a dry run of what it’d be like to run SportsFormulator full-time. After that week, I walked in the following Monday and let my boss know in two weeks, I’d be pursuing a different path.

I funded my business myself because I simply couldn’t take living in a cube any longer without scratching my entrepreneurial itch. I knew it’d be hard. I didn’t have a lot of money but I knew I had the confidence, passion and idea that could be successful. I knew there’d be many sacrifices I’d need to make and told myself that if it didn’t work I’d go work at McDonald’s if necessary but at least I’d know I gave it a shot. I didn’t want to become a person who’s simply working for retirement. I want to live with a compelling purpose. Something I jump out of bed to do each day.

As an employee, I read Inc magazine, Silicon Alley Insider and other entrepreneurial publications frequently. I had a lunch hour. I had whole days to do whatever I wanted. I got paid when I took time off. Those days are over. They have been replaced by days building marketing campaigns, planning the next steps in developing my business, reading emails from customers and advisors.

You have a totally different perspective as an entrepreneur, running your own business and being responsible for all aspects of this business whereas you’re more specialized as an employee.  You have to have both a micro and macro view as an entrepreneur.  You have to war many hats daily and work with a sense of urgency.  As an employee, it’s more comfortable.  You are more insulated in an organization.  With a startup, you’re exposed.  You’re vulnerable to many outside influences.  The stress and satisfaction are both much greater as an entrepreneur than an employee.

The biggest change you’ll experience going form employee to entrepreneur, is when you go for it and launch your startup, structure is out the window.  You’ll no longer have set working hours.  You’ll no longer be tied to working at one location.  You’ll no longer have the benefits and perks of working for a specific company.  You’ll be on your own.  Carving your own niche in the business landscape.  And you will love it.

I don’t regret take the plunge and going all in on being an entrepreneur.  It’s something that’s brought many tests that have strengthened me and taught me far more than I’d ever learn as just an employee.  If you’re thinking of making the transition from employee to entrepreneur simply weigh the pros and cons.  Can you live with passing up the opportunity?  Only the entrepreneur, not the employee, inside you can tell.

Read more of my articles on entrepreneurship and startup life.